The Union Health Ministry has written to the All India Organisation of Chemists and Druggists (AIOCD), saying its member should ensure availability of critical drugs for management of COVID-19 and other essential drugs during these "challenging times".
The ministry has forwarded a list of 55 drugs for ICU management of novel coronavirus patients and a list of another 96 drugs for general availability and treatment of various co-morbid conditions. The list was prepared following a detailed exercise undertaken by the Director General Health Services.
The letter stated that in accordance with the Clinical Management Guidelines for COVID-19, hydroxychloroquine has been recommended as prophylaxis for certain categories like healthcare workers and household contacts of positive cases.
A combination of hydorxychloroquine and azithromycin has been prescribed for severe patients requiring ICU management. Some other drugs are also presently under various stages of trials, but have so far not been recommended for use in India, the letter stated.
The ministry also acknowledged the contribution of the Indian Pharma Trade channels during these difficult times, saying they have strived to maintain the availability and supply of important drugs.
"In light of this current pandemic, it is absolutely essential that sufficient market availability of these drugs along with other essential drugs is ensured by your members. These steps will go a long way in the effective clinical management of the pandemic.
"I would request to you kindly convey this message to your members so that adequate availability of the essential medicines can be ensured during this challenging time of COVID-19," the letter stated.
Following this, the AIOCD has written to all its office bearers, presidents, secretaries and executive committee members to maintain optimum availability of the drugs mentioned in the list to avoid shortage in case of emergency for ICU patients.
"Still all of us have to work hard for some more time and carefully dispense drugs like hydroxychloroquine and azithromycin which are mandated to be sold on prescriptions only," AIOCD president Jagannath Sakharam Shinde said in his communique.
"Hope you shall circulate this message to all your chemists and stockiest in your states. Social media may be used for immediate delivery. Our preparedness is must in this demanding situation as carers of needy patients are looking to us for instant life savings medicines," he said.